Pentagon halts all operations for F-35 jets after South Carolina crash

Matt Saintsing
October 11, 2018 - 12:14 pm

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jensen Stidham

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Every F-35 in the U.S. military has been grounded after the first F-35B crash last month showed a potential systemic mechanic issue. 

Investigators examined the several F-35s flown by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and the Pentagon opted for a pause in all flight operations of the fifth generation fighter to determine “if suspect fuel tubes” were installed. 

“The U.S. Services and international partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft, said the F-35 Joint Program Office in a statement.  

“If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status. Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.”

If faulty fuel tubes are detected, however, they will be replaced. 

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents," the statement reads. 

The unprecedented grounding of the Defense Department’s newest jet comes after a Marine F-35B crashed in Beaufort, South Carolina on September 28. The pilot ejected safely from the aircraft. 

The downed aircraft in South Carolina came just one day after the F-35 conducted its first ever combat strike over Afghanistan, in support of ground operations.   

There are more than 320 F-35s operational at 15 military bases around the world.

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